09/19/2009 11:00PM

Bribon has flair for mile

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Bribon, winner of the Met Mile, had his first grass race in two years at Saratoga last month.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Bribon, winner of the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, will bring his brilliant form north of the border Sunday for the 13th running of the $1 million Woodbine Mile.

The Grade 1 event heads an outstanding 11-race card that also includes the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes, a key prep for the Grade 1 Canadian International, and the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes.

The Woodbine Mile is a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In event, meaning the winner gains an automatic berth into the BC Mile in November at Santa Anita. Bribon isn't Cup-nominated, however, and trainer Robert Ribaudo said the ultimate goal for the 6-year-old is the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 28 at Aqueduct.

Bribon captured the prestigious in May. Following a 10-week layoff, the former French runner overcame a troubled trip to win his first turf start in two years in a one-mile optional claimer at Saratoga on Aug. 9.

Ribaudo said one-turn stakes at a mile are few are far between after the Met Mile, which is why he's had the Woodbine Mile in mind for Bribon.

"This summer, there was a lapse where there were no races for him," said Ribaudo, "so we tried him on the grass at Saratoga to see how he'd compete, and he stepped up and ran big against some quality horses. He came close to the track record, and his numbers were good.

"This race really suits him. It's his best distance, and it's a one-turn mile. It's got all the things that he likes. He's doing fine. He's the kind of horse you don't have to do a lot with. The fresher he is, the better he is."

The other American invaders in the field are Ventura and Ferneley.

Ventura, the ultra-impressive winner of the 2008 BC Filly and Mare Sprint, rallied inside for second in last year's Woodbine Mile.

Ventura won her season opener in January in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita, and was a narrowly-beaten second there in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile in March. She has been idle since her head loss to Informed Decision in the Grade 1 Madison Stakes at Keeneland in April.

Ferneley was third in his next-to-last race, at Del Mar in the Wickerr Stakes, behind Colonel John and the 2006 Woodbine Mile winner, Becrux. He defeated a mediocre group in his last appearance, the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile Handicap.

"Del Mar is like a carpet - very hard," said trainer Ben Cecil. "I don't think he liked it that much. He never switched leads in either of his races. He should like the Woodbine course a lot more."

Rahy's Attorney, the upset winner in last year's Woodbine Mile, landed a pair of Grade 2 stakes earlier this summer, the King Edward and the Nijinsky.

Rahy's Attorney ran an abnormally dull race most recently over 1 3/8 miles in the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes, in which he tracked pacemaker Marlang before fading to sixth. Trainer Ian Black said he's throwing that race out, without a concrete excuse.

"The pace didn't seem that fast, but maybe we were too close to it, judging by where the winner and the second horse came from," Black said. "The horse on his outside might have made him a little keener than he needed to be. What concerned me was that he never got past Marlang at any point. He seems fine. Every test I ran on him after came back normal."

Jungle Wave and Field Commission finished first and second in the local prep for Mile, the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes.

Jungle Wave set a slow pace in the seven-furlong Play the King, and got home on top by three-quarters of a length over the yielding ground.

"He didn't like the going last time," said trainer Sid Attard. "He won because he's a nice horse. He likes [the ground] really hard."

Field Commission closed well in the Play the King, after getting sandwiched between rivals early in the lane.

The versatile Sterwins is shortening up off a determined tally over Ice Bear in the nine-furlong on the Polytrack.

"It's a tad short for him, especially against the kind of horses in this race," said trainer Malcolm Pierce. "But it's right here in our backyard, and he's doing great."

Daylight Express has flown in from Barbados, where he won his last four outings, most notably the Barbados Gold Cup. This will be his first start with Lasix.

* The pick six, which is only offered only on Sundays, has a carryover of $29,891.